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What you need to know about the exclusionary rule

On Behalf of | Feb 3, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Throughout the history of the United States, legal precedents have formed the foundation of our judicial system. They serve as examples and guidelines for interpreting the U.S. Constitution and are typically established based on the decisions of higher courts.

One case, Miranda v. Arizona, is an interpretation of the Fifth Amendment and established the right to remain silent and have an attorney present during police questioning. Another landmark ruling is Mapp v. Ohio, which protects our Fourth Amendment rights.

A pivotal legal case

In 1957, police officers in Cleveland attempted to execute a search warrant at the home of Dollree Mapp while seeking a suspected bomber. However, when Mapp requested the warrant, the officers failed to produce it and forced their way into Mapp’s home. While they were searching, they discovered obscene materials, which were illegal at the time. These led to Mapp’s arrest and prosecution for possession of lewd and lascivious books.

Mapp’s attorneys argued that the evidence obtained during the search violated her Fourth Amendment rights, which protect citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures, and should be excluded from the trial.

The argument reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in Mapp’s favor. Furthermore, it also established that the exclusionary rule applies to the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court stated that the protection against unreasonable searches and seizures extends to state courts.

Mapp v. Ohio had far-reaching implications for the judicial system and actions of police officers in the United States. If any evidence is found to be obtained in violation of our Fourth Amendment rights, it is deemed inadmissible in court. This precedent is to deter law enforcement misconduct and uphold the integrity of the criminal justice system. The exclusionary rule strikes a balance between public safety and individual liberties.